Who’s counting what in education funding?

We have not even cast ballots in our state’s primary yet, and the back-and-forth between Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challengers is already heating up. Democrats running for their party’s nomination are slamming Corbett’s cuts to education, while the governor is staunchly defending his record. Here is one superintendent’s effort to cut to the heart of the matter.

Meet our newest ‘Distinguished Alumni’

Last Friday, we recognized five individuals as “Distinguished Alumni” of Conestoga Valley. The induction ceremony is one of my favorite days of the year, because it serves as a reminder of the impact our teachers and staff have on the lives of our students—when they are in school and years later. You can help this important program continue to grow!

Mandate relief – a lawmaker’s view

Today, we conclude our series on the issue of furloughing teachers for economic reasons. I am pleased to give the last word to state Rep. Ryan Aument, a Republican who represents the 41st District, which includes parts of western Lancaster County. He is a member of the House Education Committee, which is considering legislation that would give schools more flexibility in furloughing staff in order to balance budgets in lean economic times.

As Dr. Huesken pointed out, I am a strong supporter of mandate relief. The economic furlough legislation before the House Education Committee (HB1722) is an important step toward giving school districts greater flexibility in the management of their resources.

Excellent teachers are the cornerstone of an exceptional education system, yet we continue to require districts to rely solely on seniority to determine layoff decisions, meaning we often lose some of our most effective teachers simply because they have less classroom experience than other teachers. The outdated policy is not only unfair to our teachers, but also to our children. Pennsylvania is one of 11 remaining states that mandate districts determine layoff decisions solely based on seniority.

To this end, we have developed House Bill 1722 to address the issue of seniority-based layoffs, and it is clear there is a strong appetite among voters and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to end this outdated policy. The bill does ensure that furlough decisions are performance-driven by incorporating rating results from the recently implemented educator evaluation system.

Under this system, an educator’s performance rating is based on a numeric score calculated using multiple measures of student achievement and growth data AND traditional classroom observations.

With that in mind, I would like to specifically note that House Bill 1722 does not stipulate that only teachers who receive a performance rating of “failing” or “needs improvement” can be furloughed.  In the unfortunate case that furloughs are necessary, schools are simply directed to start with educators who received a rating of failing, followed by needs improvement, then proficient and last, distinguished. The idea is to ensure that we are saving our best, no matter their hire date, while letting go of the less effective first. In a school district like Conestoga Valley, this would mean, if furloughs are necessary, distinguished teachers would be the very last to be considered.

Mandate relief – a teacher’s view

noid1q02273Continuing our series on teacher furloughs in lean economic times, I am pleased to welcome Ms. Kerry Mulvihill, a teacher at CV Middle School and president of the CV Education Association, for a teacher’s perspective on the issue. You can see my thoughts, here, and our school board president’s thoughts, here. Next week, I look forward to a post from Rep. Ryan Aument for some concluding thoughts!

I would like thank Dr. Huesken for inviting me to respond to his post on state Rep. Ryan Aument’s HB 1722, which would permit school districts to allow economic furloughs of teachers.  This is an important issue.

Gov. Tom Corbett’s nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts has already caused Pennsylvania school districts to eliminate more than 20,000 education jobs since 2011. HB 1722 would allow school districts to furlough even more employees with fewer restrictions.

Mandate relief – a school director’s view

7 John Smucker_250x250Last week, I initiated a conversation on legislation being promoted by state Rep. Ryan Aument, who represents part of Lancaster County, which would give schools more flexibility in furloughing teachers for economic reasons and based more on evaluations than seniority. Today, I am pleased to welcome Mr. John Smucker, our school board president, for his perspective on this issue. -GGH

As a school board member I am always interested in the words “mandate relief.” When I hear them, bells and whistles start to go off in my head, and I get visions of being able to actually make local-based decisions on how to manage the funds that we as school boards are entrusted with. All too often, after the initial dust settles, life goes back to normal and local school boards continue to have their hands tied by the mandates, many of which are unfunded, that are handed down to us by our leaders in Harrisburg.

Mandate relief … at last?

Wednesday morning, Rep. Ryan Aument met with members of the Lancaster Chamber’s education advisory group to discuss legislation he is working on that would allow school districts to furlough teachers due to economic reasons. The bill would give school districts a reprieve from one “unfunded mandate,” but it is not a slam dunk.

Why we will finish school June 6

Our school board last night set commencement for June 5 and the last day of school for June 6. That may be a bit earlier than parents who followed our snow make-up schedule were expecting. The mechanics have to do with two important factors: the number of weather closings for the 2013-2014 school year and the unique demand for staff development time.